Albert Bierstadt

Albert Bierstadt ( January 7, 1830 in Solingen, † February 18, 1902 in New York City ) was an American painter of German origin.

Life and work

As Bierstadt was two years old, leaving his parents and two other sons, Germany and settled in 1833 in New Bedford, Massachusetts at that time an important center of the American whaling industry. Bierstadt's father had found work there as a winemaker. Little is known about his youth. In 1850, Bierstadt, who was self-taught, a professional career as an art teacher. In this early stage he met daguerreotypists which aroused his interest in photography. His brother Edward was a professional photographer.

With the intention of a distant relative, the one-time famous painter Johann Peter Hasenclever, to get a formal education, he went back to Germany in 1853. Shortly before Bierstadt's arrival in Dusseldorf Hasenclever died, however. The young Americans stayed with his painter friends who supported him. From 1853 to 1857 Bierstadt studied at the Art Academy Dusseldorf, including landscape painting by Carl Friedrich Lessing and Andreas Achenbach and other representatives of the Düsseldorf School. He joined the six years older painter Emanuel Leutze at, grew up in the U.S. as he and also. Looking for his European roots Together with other artist friends - Sanford Robinson Gifford, and Worthington Whittredge - he traveled to Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Here Bierstadt painted numerous sketches that he used later in the studio as a model for large-scale oil paintings; the Monumental was to be his trademark.

In July 1857 he returned back to the U.S. where she organized art exhibitions in his hometown and then moved to the vicinity of New York City, where he quickly gained recognition. In 1858, he showed some of his large-scale works at the annual exhibition of the National Academy of Design for the first time: His painting of Lake Lucerne with the Swiss Alps in the background was very well received - Bierstadt was elected an honorary member of the Academy.

In the spring and summer of the following year he took part in an expedition to the West in part: The Colonel Frederick W. Lander had received from the U.S. Department of the Interior order to scout a wagon route to California. Bierstadt studied mainly areas in Colorado and Wyoming and brought a variety of sketches, photographs and Native American artifacts to take home. He moved into a studio in the famous Artist's House The Tenth Street Studio Building in Manhattan, where he exhibited his new images of the American West and soon became famous.

Bierstadt's work is never realistic, but romantically transfigured. He often changed for the sake of the effect of details and loved dramatic lighting effects. Bierstadt is in the tradition of the academic landscape painting, as practiced in Europe. These landscapes are not simply " paint copies ", but composed in an academic manner - certain types of landscapes dissolve in man after conviction of Western painting tradition certain emotions in the viewer. In this tradition Bierstadt worked.

In 1863 he undertook in the company of the writer Fitz Hugh Ludlow, whose wife Rosalie Osborne he should get married in the same year, a journey through the Rocky Mountains, Yosemite Valley, by Oregon to the Columbia River to the coast of the Pacific Northwest of America; the writer published a book about this trip later. The couple built a villa called paintbox at Irvington -on-Hudson.

In 1867 he went with his wife to a two and a half year stay in Europe, where he had already reached great fame. Two of his pictures - The Rocky Mountains, Lander 's Peak (1863 ) and Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mount Rosalie (1866 ) were presented in London Queen Victoria. The opinion of the critics, however, was divided. 1868 his works were exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin, and he was awarded a gold medal for his painting Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Bierstadt maintained contact with painters of the Barbizon School and the English landscape painters. 1867 Order of the French Legion of Honor he was awarded in 1869 the Austrian St. Stanislaus.

From 1871 to 1873 he lived with his wife in California, traveled again to the West and Canada and visited the Bahamas, where his wife, who was suffering from tuberculosis, had the mild climate of respect due to a housing. On all of these trips several hundred sketches were made for later oil paintings. Until the 1880s traveled the highly productive Bierstadt even by North America and created commissioned works, among others, for the U.S. government. Two of his monumental works hang in the Capitol at Washington, DC

After Bierstadt's studio was completely burned in Irvington -on-Hudson in 1882, he finally moved to New York City. But gradually waned, interest in his works: In a time when American society was entirely focused on technical progress and industrial development, no more space for pictures that a cure Garden of Eden and its threat was summoned His huge painting "The Last of the Buffalo ", which he submitted for the Paris exhibition of 1889, was rejected by the American selection committee.

The death of his wife in 1883 and other misfortunes loaded the aging artist who died lonely and penniless in 1902 in New York; in 1895 he had to declare his bankruptcy. After his death, Bierstadt was soon almost completely forgotten until it was rediscovered in the 1960s in the wake of natural and environmental movement in the United States. Above all, his small, as " preliminary " imaginary oil sketches were exhibited again and found late recognition. In the homes of many American families today hang back reproductions of his paradise of the " Wild West " conjuring images.

Today Albert Bierstadt is considered one of the most important painters of the so-called Hudson River School, sometimes called Rocky Mountain School: A loose coalition of American East Coast painters who glorified the pristine American West as a Garden of Eden in the New World in its monumental landscape paintings. His works hang in major museums in the USA and Europe.

Works (selection)

  • Canyon Landscape ( 1860 ), Museum Baden, Solingen Graefrath
  • The Rocky Mountains, Lander 's Peak (1863 ), Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California ( 1865), Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama
  • Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mount Rosalie (1866 ), The Brooklyn Museum, New York City
  • Emigrants Crossing the Plains ( 1867), National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City
  • Valley of Kern's River, California (1875 ), Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
  • The Shore of the Turquoise Sea (1878 ), Private Collection
  • Sunlight Through Storm (1870 /80), Nordsee Museum
  • The Last of the Buffalo (1888), Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC